Frequent night waking and broken sleep patterns in infants may predict problematic behavior at the toddler stage, according to a recent study.
Researchers from the American Friends of Tel Aviv University found that temper tantrums and misbehavior, restlessness and inattention may be signs of developmental delays or disorders.
“Many parents feel that, after a night without enough sleep, their infants are not at their ‘best.’ But the real concern is whether infant sleep problems — i.e. fragmented sleep, frequent night wakings — indicate any future developmental problems,” Professor Avi Sadeh, who led the study, said in a statement. “The fact that poor infant sleep predicts later attention and behavior irregularities has never been demonstrated before using objective measures.”
For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from nearly 90 one year olds and their parents. They revisited the lab when the infants were three to four years old.
The results revealed significant predictive and concomitant correlations between infant sleep and toddler attention regulation and behavior problems. The study points to significant ties between sleep quality markers (sleep percentage and number of night wakings) at one year of age and attention and behavior regulation markers two to three years later.
The researchers are currently exploring the underlying characteristics of children who are considered “good sleepers” at the age of nine to 18 months.